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Poetry Editor’s Note

I have been reflecting lately on the name of this journal, Solstice. Particularly in these late autumnal days here in New England, where afternoons accelerate into darkness sooner and sooner, and the morning light is meager and chill. Darkness is accumulating, and soon the winter solstice will be upon us, that nadir of our days. The national mood seems to be compounding gloom, too, as the pandemic and our penchant for bitter discourse drag on. Winter solstice is also known as the hibernal solstice, and I can feel the temptation to haul away into some protective shell, insulated from the stark uncertainties of the world, and to drift into unconsciousness. But I also know that the solstice is not an endpoint, but a pivot, and as a poet I like to think of solstice as the volta in a seasonal sonnet, that rhetorical turn where the preceding argument is transformed into a fresh, transparent take on the world. Our winters are a lot longer than fourteen lines of verse, and we still face months of ice and muck and sharp air, but it’s comforting to know that the volta is coming, eventually, and we will see our existence in a new light.

And poetry is the perfect medium to explore this process of turning, all of it: the descent into darkness, the struggle for redirection, the emergence to new horizons. The poets in this issue are well-versed in the trajectory of this arc. Rob Arnold interrogates his identity as a Chamoru Pacific Islander, adopted and adapting into the harsh glitz of North American culture. Lisa Pegram slyly plays with the atmospheric phenomena evolving out of climate change, to underscore the power of African influences that continue to shape the New World. Emily Grodin, an extraordinary autistic young poet who is minimally speaking, writes beautifully about her journey into self-expression. Works by Kathleen Hellen, Akhim Cabey, John Sibley Williams, and others round out this wide-ranging issue. And as a holiday bonus, we’ve included a section of poems by several of our gifted Solstice editors.

So wrap yourself in a favorite quilt, and lean into these luminous verses. May they help us to navigate the cold and dark that lies ahead.


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